Disability law protects diabetics from discrimination

April 25, 2014 

Thanks to Ryan Symens and to the Bradenton Herald Editorial Board for bringing to light one of the obstacles of living 24/lifetime with Type 1 diabetes (T1D). And shame on the theater operator who choose to ignore and violate federal law.

On July 26, 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (P.L. 101-336), the ADA, which requires "reasonable accommodation" for persons with certain disabilities, became effective. Congress identified and specifically included T1D as a qualifying disability.

Title III of the Act, "Public Accommodations," directs that restaurants, banks, parks, theaters, stores and so on must implement, or change, policies, practices and procedures to accommodate persons with disability.

Twenty three and a half years has been "a reasonable length of time" for Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, and its managing director, to bring policies into compliance.

Ryan should be commended for speaking up and insisting on his right to retain possession of what he deems to be necessary for his health and safety.

Ryan, there isn't anything you will not accomplish if you exercise a little (OK, a lot of) care and control your diabetes and not let it dictate to you -- there are now plenty of tools to help you.

From the time I was diagnosed with T1D in 1957 until the ADA went into effect in 1990, I had to be very careful when I mentioned diabetes in order to avoid discrimination. In January 1960 I was terminated from a job because I had placed a check mark next to "Diabetes" as an existing medical condition.

As it turns out, diabetes never slowed me down or kept me from doing any kind of work, working continuously for more than 50 years and actually receiving year-end bonuses for not using any allocated sick days.

Dennis J. Dacey

Manatee County

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